Tanguy de Lamotte (Photo courtesy Vendée Globe Race)

For richer or poorer, nothing changes between Le Cléac’h and Gabart
Two choices imminent
Is Isolation splendid?
After being forced to virtually stop off the island of Tenerife to repair the top of his damaged mainsail track just one week into his Vendée Globe, Spain’s Javier Sanso spent most of the following four weeks at sea trying to catch up.
Left behind in successive waves of high pressure and light winds, the skipper of Acciona 100% Eco Powered was more than 600 miles behind Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding when he passed the Cape of Good Hope but bowed to his task in the Indian Ocean. By the time his Swiss counterpart was passing Cape Leeuwin, West Australia, Sanso was snapping at the heels of the middle pack, 100 miles behind.

…..we have a problem, V2.0
Now Sanso faces another mast climb after discovering this morning that his mainsail track is, he believes, damaged again. He reported to Vendée Globe LIVE today that he can move the mainsail headboard car but it will not go up to full hoist. So he must sail temporarily with one reef and will wait for first light Wednesday morning (local) to make the climb and try to make a repair.
“It is stuck at the first reef and so I have to go up the mast again.” Sanso explained, “ I can lower the sail if I need to, but I cannot hoist it to full main. Something is stuck up there. Hopefully it is not the track again, so I don’t know. I will have to go up tomorrow and check. It was starting to get dark last night when I realised there was a problem, and then this morning when I was going to go for full main with the wind down to 20-21kts I could not get it up to full main. It would go up but it would slide. There is a problem up there.”
The problems facing Bernard Stamm continue. The Swiss skipper’s arrival at Kaikai Beach by Dunedin, NZ  quickly became a local talking point for Boxing Day visitors to the local beauty spot and surfing location and the beleaguered Vendée Globe soloist’s anchorage was covered on television by TVNZ, but as yet there is no clear news about how Stamm is faring with his attempts to restore his two hydrogenerators to working order.

Great minds think alike?
There is no change in the strategic thinking which is clearly shared between the two leaders.
Armel Le Cléac’h and François Gabart as they start to deal with a developing trough of confused light winds. The leading pair have two alternative routes, north or south, to avoid the worst of the sticky situation but so far both remain locked side by side following the same course. The northern route offers a more surefire guarantee of wind but means more miles sailed, whilst the south is more direct but with a greater risk. The overall difference, according to the routing software, is a matter of hours at Cape Horn where they are expected to reach some time on January 1st.
«There are not likely to do anything different to one another at the moment. Not only do they have the same boat, the same set ups and train together at Port La Fôret but they will have almost the same weather information run through identical or near identical routing software and so, not only is it not a surprise they stay so close together, but I dont see them doing anything very different right now. » observed Alain Gautier, the Vendée Globe’s safety adviser who finished second in the second edition of the race.
Le Cléac’h has held on to his slender lead over Gabart– around 10 miles this afternoon – as they make a robust 18-19kts. But the worst of the light winds seem set to affect them as they deal with final gate of the course, Pacific East, which is 750 miles in front of them.
The patience of Jean-Pierre Dick has been sorely tested over the last 24 hours as he struggles with a ridge of high pressure that has snared him in lighter winds since Christmas Day. Virbac-Paprec 3 has made 200 miles less than Banque Populaire and has rarely crept into double figures but the medium to long term outlook is still favourable for a catch up for Dick who remains very positive.

Profiting from adversity
At 45 days into the Vendée Globe the skippers are very well aware of what represents their comfort zone, and where the limits are. Mike Golding is one skipper who was prepared to push his boundaries last night in very gusty, squally conditions to try and pull back some lost miles of Jean Le Cam.
“The squalls were up to 40kts at times but were relatively short lived and so you just had to hang on. It was a bit fruity at times, but in the end you cannot set the sails only for what you get in the big squalls otherwise you are just underpowered the rest of the time.” Recalled Golding.

The British skipper and counterpart Dominique Wavre have now profited from Stamm’s Dunedin halt, rising to sixth and seventh today.

When solo means solo
But many of the skippers must look at the two leaders with envy, not just for the sizeable lead they have built but seeing what having a boat nearby to pace yourself against represents as a real advantage in terms of measuring and modulating performance.
There are now many who really are racing solo, without any means of judging how they are doing. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) is some 650 miles back from the two frontrunners with Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 300 miles behind him. The British sailor on Hugo Boss has a lead of almost 900 miles over Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), who is continuing on his way 400 miles ahead of the only trio remaining close together comprising Mike Golding (Gamesa), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered).
Further back, Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) is still 400 miles from Bubi Sanso, which is around the same distance that separates Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets) from Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-cœur).
Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is not worried about that sort of problem. Sailing 4800 miles from the leaders is not that big a deal for someone, who has already sailed non-stop solo around the world on a 6.50m Mini taking 268 days.

 

 
 
  THEY SAID…  
  
I’m watching to see what happens with Bernard Stamm. He is going to a lot of effort to get things sorted, so he must feel he has a good chance of doing so. And he will come out with a lot of fire in his belly. With that boat he will always be threat, though if we can get to the Atlantic ahead then I’d like to think we’d have a good chance.”
“It is interesting to see the talk of the leaders finishing in under 80 days. It is fast and even here it feels fast. I was looking at it and if I can be at Cape Horn in ten days then that is pretty fast. And there can be some serious compression in the Atlantic. If the leaders get around into headwinds and we are approaching from the west at speed, that could be good. But it does feel fast. It feels like I am just starting to get used to being down here and it will be time to go north again. But in saying that I can’t wait for Cape Horn. 
Mike Golding, GBR, Gamesa
Hello. The sun is rising. The wind is easier now. I can rest a little, because the last hours were very tough Last minutes of rest before going back to work. There are different routes, so I have to make my choice. I keep on going with my strategy; we’ll see how it goes. I feel like you guys are more worried than me. François and I are basically taking the same course. I have my route planned, so I’m not stressed. 
Armel le Cléac’h FRA, (Banque Populaire)

 This morning I found out I had a problem with the headboard car again. It was stuck at the first reef and so I have to go up the mast again. I can lower the main if I need to, but I cannot hoist it to full main. Something is stuck up there. Hopefully it is not the track again, so I don’t know. I will have to go up tomorrow and check. It was starting to get dark when I realised there was a problem, and then this morning when I was going to go for full main with the wind down to 20-21kts I could not get it up to full main. It would go up but it would slide. There is a problem up there.
I am trying to push as hard as I can, but feel compromised. Tomorrow I will try before the sun comes up, so we will see. The weather is on my side. The boat should be stable and on a good course. It should be easier than the last time. Last time I had to be fully stopped with no main. I cant really see what the problem is, but hopefully there is not a problem with the track. I hope the piece of track is still on the past.

Javier Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered  
 
 
 
 
 
 Rankings as of 12/27/2012

      Lat n Long  Dist to Leader   
Armel Le Cléac´h 1
Banque Populaire
Armel Le Cléac´h
  54° 31’37” S
122° 4’43” O
0.0 nm
8967.5 nm
138 ° 10.2 nds
4.7 nds
François Gabart 2
MACIF
François Gabart
  54° 27’54” S
122° 31’10” O
14.0 nm
8981.5 nm
143 ° 10.7 nds
4.3 nds
Jean-Pierre Dick 3
Virbac Paprec 3
Jean-Pierre Dick
  49° 21’33” S
137° 2’20” O
575.4 nm
9542.9 nm
104 ° 19.3 nds
19.2 nds
Alex Thomson 4
HUGO BOSS
Alex Thomson
  50° 14’38” S
146° 7’19” O
941.3 nm
9908.7 nm
70 ° 18.0 nds
18.0 nds
Jean Le Cam 5
SynerCiel
Jean Le Cam
  49° 34’60” S
172° 12’11” O
1935.4 nm
10902.8 nm
92 ° 13.8 nds
13.7 nds
Mike Golding 6
Gamesa
Mike Golding
  52° 31’16” S
178° 1’21” E
2282.5 nm
11249.9 nm
99 ° 14.8 nds
14.6 nds
Dominique Wavre 7
Mirabaud
Dominique Wavre
  53° 40’3” S
176° 42’58” E
2333.0 nm
11300.5 nm
100 ° 13.3 nds
12.7 nds
Bernard  Stamm 8
Cheminées Poujoulat
Bernard Stamm
  45° 52’48” S
170° 42’31” E
2657.5 nm
11625.0 nm
145 ° 0.0 nds
0.0 nds
Javier Sansó 9
ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered
Javier Sansó
  51° 12’54” S
167° 58’17” E
2658.1 nm
11625.6 nm
85 ° 11.9 nds
11.4 nds
Arnaud Boissières 10
AKENA Vérandas
Arnaud Boissières
  53° 15’6” S
159° 19’45” E
2953.0 nm
11920.4 nm
89 ° 16.6 nds
16.4 nds
Bertrand de Broc 11
Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM Projets
Bertrand de Broc
  48° 51’38” S
144° 7’0” E
3576.3 nm
12543.8 nm
61 ° 11.7 nds
7.1 nds
Tanguy De Lamotte 12
Initiatives-coeur
Tanguy De Lamotte
  49° 47’42” S
133° 54’22” E
3919.0 nm
12886.5 nm
100 ° 14.4 nds
14.4 nds
Alessandro  Di Benedetto 13
Team Plastique
Alessandro Di Benedetto
  47° 29’59” S
114° 15’47” E
4706.9 nm
13674.3 nm
136 ° 12.0 nds
10.6 nds
Vincent Riou
PRB
Vincent Riou
Retired
Zbigniew Gutkowski
ENERGA
Zbigniew Gutkowski
Retired
Jérémie Beyou
Maître CoQ
Jérémie Beyou
Retired
Samantha Davies
Savéol
Samantha Davies
Retired
Louis Burton
Bureau Vallée
Louis Burton
Retired
Kito de Pavant
Groupe Bel
Kito de Pavant
Retired
Marc Guillemot
Safran
Marc Guillemot
Retired

             

No More Mast (Photo by Samantha Davies)

  • Javier Sansó heads to the Canary Islands with mainsail down
  • Sam Davies and Louis Burton abandons
  • Cléac’h hunts down Gabard
  • England 2 France 0

News Flash:

Javier Sansó reports that he has been sailing for 32 hours without his mainsail. He was approaching the Canary Islands yesterday afternoon, where he will shelter in calmer conditions while he climbs up his 100ft mast to recover the main halyard. It is a hazardous operation even with a crew and even in calmer waters – imagine climbing a hundred foot ladder balanced on a rocking horse (don’t try this at home).

“Today has been pretty entertaining preparing all the material to go up the mast tomorrow in the shelter of the Canary Islands,” Sansó, the only Spaniard in the race, said. “I just need some sheltered water without waves for a few hours and I think I’ll be back again 100%. I’ve been able to sleep a full 2 hours – a real luxury!“

Black Friday: And then they were 16

Sam Davies is safe but out of the race after dismasting on Thursday night. She has switched on her engine and is heading to Madeira, 100 miles away, at about five knots. The weather is being kinder her and she was expected arrive on Saturday morning. She will be met there by Romain Attanasio, her partner and Erwan Lemeilleur, Savéol’s boat captain, who are arriving on Friday night. Davies will soon be back with her 13-month-old son, Ruben, but must have wished it would be under different circumstances and at least 74 days later.

She was near the centre of a depression with a 35 knots of wind and treacherous cross seas and was preparing to put a third reef in the mainsail, when she heard and felt the mast go.

“It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea,” Davies said. “I was getting ready to my foul weather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping and the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact.
“I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat, so I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced.”

Davies, who finished fourth in the last Vendée Globe, waited until the wind had eased before cutting away the mast and rigging and with them any chance of finishing her second Vendée Globe.

There were words of support for her throughout the fleet including her two fellow Britons. “I feel so sorry for Sam,” Mike Golding (Gamesa) said. “Is she ok? She was right in the worst of it at the wrong time. A great shame for her and the race.”
“Really sad news regarding Sam’s dismasting last night,” Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) said. “I’m glad that she’s safe and well, but it’s a sobering reminder of how vigilant I have to be.”
Soon after Davies abandoned, Louis Burton, the 27-year-old Parisian, announced that he had abandoned and headed to La Coruña. He was limping back to Les Sables d’Olonne stuck on a starboard tack after colliding with a fishing boat on Wednesday at 0300hrs (French time). But the damage to the port shroud of his boat, Bureau Vallée, and consequent instability of his mast, meant that his passage through the Bay of Biscay with the current conditions would have been nearly impossible – especially with the deadline of needing to re-start the race by Tuesday November 20.

 Fleet News:

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) aka The Jackal, took the lead from the Francois ‘the Golden Boy’ Gabard (Macif) at 2300hrs (French time) on Thursday. The lead boat are heading due south and are 400 miles away from Cape Verde. By the 1600hrs ranking, Le Cléac’h the favourite, had stretched his lead to 20 miles over Gabard and the whole lead group. Gabard, who had led since the night of the start on Saturday, successfully re-positioned west and held off Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), who was a further four miles behind.

Earlier England had scored two small victories, with Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) first shaking off Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and then passing Vincent Riou (Riou) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) to move into fourth and close on the top three.

Further east, Mike Golding (Gamesa) gave Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) a small haircut in their continuing match and led him by 12 miles. England 2 – 0 France.

But not for long. As the 10-12 knot winds veered from North to North-east, Dick and Riou struck back and passed Thomson.

Riou, gybing east but still the furthest west, at last found more wind than the others and had the best speed of 13.8 knots amongst the lead boats. The eleven skippers at the front of the front of the fleet have been enjoying much less aggressive conditions than cross seas and squalls that battered Davies out of the race.

 

 
  THEY SAID… 
 
 
 
It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea and to start with not much wind and the wind was just starting to establish itself around 25-30 knots and I had the right sails up for those conditions and it had been pretty tricky and then, as I was expecting, we had some big rain squalls coming and the first rain squall came through and I had up to 40 knots, so I bore away and I was easing the sheets from inside the boat and easing the sheets and bearing away to calm it down. I was mentally preparing myself, as soon as the squalls had finished to go out and take the third reef for the night, because it was at nightfall when this was going on. And that is the way I had been sailing for the whole race, is quite conservatively and taking a reef, especially at night when you can’t see the squalls coming, so I was getting ready to my foul weather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping and the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact and then the boat came upright and suddenly there is no more wind in your rigging. The hard thing is that when the mast falls down, it falls to leeward so the boat is being pushed on top of the mast so I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat, so I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced so I put my survival suit on because it is the best way to go out and check everything on deck and in the time that this happened and the boat turned around, as I expected it would, so that the mast was to windward of the boat and acting more like a sea anchor but the worst thing was the really big waves and breaking wave and they were pushing the mast and boom into the deck and into the hull still and everything was moving a lot, like around 2m, and there was still a lot of wind in the mainsail attached to the boom, so every time there was a big gust the boom was lifting off the deck and into the water. To start with I didn’t want to go outside in case the boom got caught by the wind or in case there was a big jump, so I wanted to wait to see how the whole situation as going to establish itself before I took any chances to go on deck.

Sam Davies, Savéol, GBR
Really sad news regarding Sam’s dismasting last night, I’m glad that she’s safe and well, but it’s a sobering reminder of how vigilant I have to be! I’m feeling a bit more tired again today. A combination of not enough wind, and changing wind conditions all night made it difficult to get any rest as I was switching between several sails all night. I felt as though I had slowed down a lot compared to the pack, and was sure I would have lost 4th position this morning so it was a good boost this morning to see that I had held onto the position over-night, everyone else must have had a slow tough night too. After the speed of yesterday (which included some of the clearest rainbow’s I’ve ever seen) today will probably be a slower day, but the trade winds are starting to establish themselves. While things are a little calmer and the conditions are much lighter I will take the opportunity to do some checks both up on deck and down below today.

Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, GBR
  When Sam called us during the night it was horrible. With the support of the technical team, she was able to secure the situation and put herself away; waiting to work on the rig to release the boat at night and prevent it from damaging the hull. Her composure allowed her to keep Savéol afloat without taking undue risks.

Xavier David, team manager of Savéol
Greetings from ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered. Today has been pretty entertaining preparing all the material to go up the mast tomorrow in the shelter of the Canary Islands. I just need some sheltered water without waves for a few hours and I think I’ll be back again 100%. I’ve been able to sleep a full 2 hours… a real luxury!
The weather here is more similar to the South Indian Ocean than the north of the Canaries but well, that’s what we have. The energy generator systems are working perfectly in spite of the harsh weather conditions. I’m sailing just with a foresail and it’s a little strange to see this red and white bird with just one wing. But she’ll soon be able to spread both wings again. It’s just a question of a little more time and we can get back sailing again with full performance. Best wishes from Acciona 100% EcoPowered.

Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered

Since the beginning, we have been pretty close with Bernard (Stamm) and with François (Gabart) a little before us. Last night, he (Gabart) fell into an area with less wind, we were able to get closer and I managed to pass him. I’m following the best route, I take care of the boat, it is a pleasure. This is the first time I have been at the head of a Vendée Globe so it is a pleasure for me and the entire team who worked on the boat. Now the road is very long and my peers are not far behind. Yesterday, I met a catamaran, who asked me if the conditions were good. That was nice.

Armel Le Cléac’h, Banque Populaire, FRA
I feel so sorry for Sam [Davies who was dismasted last night on Saveol, but is safe and unhurt]. Is she ok? She was right in the worst of it at the wrong time. A great shame for her and the race.” “We are in the Doldrums, well not exactly, but it feels like it. There have been some big wind shifts, bit changes in wind strength and I have a line of rain coming towards me now, I am not sure what it is bringing me. The good thing I suppose is that I have never stopped, but I did end up spending a couple of hours going upwind. I have had to cross the trough somewhere and so it is a little narrower here, but I would prefer to be over where the others are. The files showed the breeze should have been lifting me and so to have ended up upwind is a bit frustrating. I had a little problem with the halyards earlier when I put the genoa up and it did not go in the lock properly so I got a bit of a rope burn on my hands. It seems like my course has been a series of steps, like a sawtooth really but that is just what I have had. I’m going to try to hook to the west as the day goes on but I think I’ll be in this light stuff for most of the day.

Mike Golding, Gamesa, GBR

 

 

Ranking at 1600 (French time) 16/11/2012
1 Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cléac’h, 22,368.9 miles to the finish
2 Macif, François Gabart, 22572.7 miles to finish FRA, +20.8 miles to leader 3 Cheminées Poujoulat, Berrnard Stamm, SUI, +24.3 miles to leader 4 Jean-Pierre Dick +81.8 miles to leader 5 PRB, Vincent Riou, FRA +88.9 miles to leader
Other International: 6 Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss +93 miles to leader
8 Mike Golding, Gamesa, GBR, 128.9 miles to the leader
10 Dominique Wavre, Mirabaud,SUI +161.7 miles to leader 11 Javier Sanso, Acciona 100% Eco Powered, ESP, +358.7 miles to leader 15 Zbigniew Gutkowski, Energa, POL, +616.4 miles to leader
17 Alessandro Di Benedetto,Team Plastique, ITA, +709.3 miles to leader

Groupe Bel damage from collision that forced abandonment of the race by Kito de Pavant (Photo by Groupe Bel / Kito de Pavant)

 
• Kito De Pavant is second abandonment of the Vendée Globe

• Le Cléac’h up to second

• Competition and duels through the fleet

• First strategic choices of the race


“I am cursed. The Vendée Globe is not for me.” That was the conclusion of the bitterly disappointed Kito de Pavant this Monday afternoon, despairing at the harsh reality that his challenge to complete the Vendée Globe is, again, very prematurely over.

For the second successive edition of the race this charismatic, twinkle eyed skipper from Port Camargue in the Mediterranean is having to withdraw.

His Groupe Bel suffered serious damage when he was hit by a fishing trawler whilst racing in 11th place, around 45 miles off the Portuguese coast about 75 miles NW of Cascais at around 1000hrs CET this morning.

De Pavant described it as a ‘stupid accident’ grabbing some minutes of sleep when he was awoken by a bang. With damage to Groupe Bel’s outrigger – the deck spreader which supports the rig – losing his bowsprit and sustaining a hole in the hull and deck he announced his retirement this afternoon.

The Groupe Bel skipper’s second attempt at the Vendée Globe effectively ended a little more than 68 hours after the start, a cruel reprise after he lost his mast within 24 hours of the start of the 2008-9 race.

He is unhurt and was making to Cascais where he was expected to arrive this Tuesday evening.

“ All of that energy spent over months and years to prepare, all this is terrible. There is no bowsprit, there is a hole in the front of the hull but the boat itself is safe.To leave the Vendée Globe again, after just two days of racing, is not even possible, not even possible.” De Pavant told his team this afternoon.

A snapshot of life’s extremes
This Monday, two full days into the race, has been nothing more than a snapshot of life through the fleet. The huge disappointment of De Pavant, the second skipper of 20 starters to abandon, is contrasted sharply with the simple joie de vie of both Sam Davies and Tanguy de Lamotte aboard their respective IMOCA Open 60’s in 15th and 16th places. (Neither had heard the news of De Pavant)

Davies was positively singing in her daily video report from Savéol and Lamotte’s pleasure at being well settled on his evergreen Initiatives Couer into his dream race which he had previously worked as shore support crew for Ellen MacArthur and Nick Moloney.

While the relative distances between the groups are opening still more through the fleet, so too the private duels and races within the races are starting to take shape.

At the top of the standings since Saturday night François Gabart has extended again with his VPLP Verdier Macif with his regular ‘running mate’ Armel Le Cléac’h now up to second on the near identical sistership Banque Populaire. The closely matched duo raced cheek by jowl all the way across the Atlantic in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre with Le Cléac’h finishing less than two hours ahead after 16 days of racing.

Gabart leads by 13 miles this afternoon, gaining nine miles over the course of today. The three leading boats, Macif, Banque Populaire and PRB were separated laterally by about 52 miles as they slanted south west.

Into the pack Arnaud Boissières on eleventh placed Akena Vérandas was happy to be duelling with Louis Burton on Bureau Valley. On similar Owen –Clark designs Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso was less than a mile behind Mike Golding, though the British skipper had passed Jean Le Cam to gain eighth place this afternoon. And speaking to the radio vacs this afternoon Polish skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski confirmed tha,t even though his Energa was in light winds and well to the back of the fleet, he was taking on De Lamotte who was just a handful of miles ahead in terms of distance to the finish.

With a low pressure system building to the NW of the fleet the options to get west and use it and to avoid a roadblock of light, unsettled winds between the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are being taken through the middle of the fleet. This first strategic choice of the race so far may reshape upper middle order.

THEY SAID…

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At 1500hrs UTC Monday 12 November 2012

1 – François Gabart, FRA
[ Macif ]
23313 nms to finish
2 – Armel Le Cléac’h, FRA
[ Banque Populaire ]
+8.1 miles to leader

3 – Vincent Riou, FRA
[ PRB ]
+ 16.9 miles to leader

4 – Bernard Stamm, SUI
[ Cheminées Poujoulat ]
+29.9 miles to leader

5 -Jean-Pierre Dick, FRA
[ Virbac-Paprec 3 ]
+34.9 miles to leader

> FULL RANKING

I am very happy with the beginning of the race, even though the start isn’t the most important bit. There has been quite a lot of wind and waves, but it should get calmer later today. I am not too tired. I had some good sleep, it was so dark so it wasn’t really worth staying at the helm, the autopilot was on. And so I feel well rested.
I’ll stay in this north northwest wind for a few hours and then I’ll see what to do.
I was expecting more traffic, there were still a lot of cargo ships at Cape Finisterre.
I really do enjoy being the leader, I have good feelings on MACIF.
I am currently at 22 knots, but that is irregular, dropping back to 15kts at times.

François Gabart, FRA, Macif

Right now we have light winds. There are two different sets of GRIB files but they both tell me I have to go west. It is not possible for me to go south like the others. I have to go west and find the low pressure. I’ll get past the centre of the low pressure and then be able to go directly south. There is no chance for me to go directly with the fleet. Right now I have had good sleep and have been eating well. I got two hours because it is really light conditions. And the wind direction is stable. And so it is good for me and it has given the boat a rest and I have been able to check over everything. For me the boat is quite new, so I have to learn a little bit more and don’t want to make a maximum risk going at the same speed as the others. I just want to keep going and be looking to the future. Right now the winds are light but I find I go better when there is more wind.

Zbigniew Gutkowski, POL, Energa

Right now we are getting south at a good pace. The weather is looking a little bit tricky over the next 24 hours, I am in the middle with some good boats and so I am happy so far. I started pretty well and then I took the wrong decision to go a little bit south. But now I am here with everybody and so it is good.

Javier Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered

I heard guys shouting but it was too late. I jumped on deck trying to save the rig. At least we managed that much. It is important the rig does not come down, so we saved that at least, but – hey – it is not much good. I am not angry at the fisherman but at me because it should not have happened. You can’t anticipate this happening, but I went down at just the wrong time. Of course there is always the risk of a collision when you are solo, with cargos, with fishermen. It can happen off Portugal, Senegal, Cape Verde or off Brazil. Everywhere. The boat is very damaged. All of that energy spent over months and years to prepare, all this is terrible. There is no bowsprit, there is a hole in the front of the hull but the boat itself is safe. There are no problems. I have secured the rig. There are between 17 and 18 kts of wind. I’m on a direct course for Cascais. I expect to be in by night. After that we’ll think what to do. To leave the Vendée Globe again, after just two days of racing, is not even possible, not even possible.

Kito de Pavant, FRA, Groupe Bel

 

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers last press conference before race start. (Photo courtesy of 2012 Vendee Globe Race)

• 20 skippers line up in the press conference room
• The magic continues in the Les Sables d’Olonne sunshine
• British skippers relaxed and ready

 

With an audience of more than 200 media, Bruno Retailleau, the President of the Vendée General Council, accompanied by Louis Guédon, the mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, Patricia Brochard the Co-President of the Sodebo and Denis Horeau, Vendée Globe race director presented the 20 skippers who will take part in the imminent Vendée Globe.

Highlighting how the Vendée Globe race has remained true to its core values, Retailleau emphasized the universally high level of the entries for this edition. “Getting 20 entries on the start line is an unexpected result” He said.
Denis Horeau, Race Director, praised the high quality of the entries, how well prepared the boats are and the professionalism of the teams involved in this 2012-13 edition.
The Mayor Les Sables d’Olonne recalled some of the history of the race while Patricia Brochard of Sodebo praised the entrepreneurship and enterprise which is inherent in each of the IMOCA Open 60 campaigns.

After the formalities the skippers spoke in turn, at once humorous, relaxed and insightful, an uplifting atmosphere before they join each other on the start line on Saturday 13h02 hrs.

The magic continues…..

The Vendée Globe magic continues. As the countdown continues to Saturday’s start of the solo round the world race each new day brings bigger and bigger crowds to Les Sables d’Olonne, to the pontoons where the 20 IMOCA Open 60’s are primed, ready for the emotional dock out. Teams are still refining the small details on board, adding the little luxuries and comforters which can lift the skipper’s mood when times are hard. But at three days before the start the tension is now palpable as the start gun beckons.

There are many skippers who have enjoyed the unique ambiance of the final countdown in Les Sables d’Olonne before. Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM) was here in 1992 and 1996 and says the passion for ocean racing is still the same. So, also, confirm Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding who are both back for the fourth time. The visitors come from all over Europe. Les Sablais strain at the guardrails on the pontoons to see their local heroes Arnaud Boissières, past winner Vincent Riou and the Italian skipper Alessandro di Benedetto who has adopted Les Sables d’Olonne as his home. There may be favourite solo sailors among the crowds which have queued sometimes for more than one hour to make their pass down the pontoons, but each skipper is offered the same universal respect.

“What is unique about the Vendée Globe is seeing three generations of a family all there to pay respect to the skippers whoever they are and the very strong relationship between the skippers and the public. It surpassed competition. They realise the dangers the skippers face and the fragility of their world. That is the strength of the Vendée Globe.” Said Bruno Retailleau, President of the Vendée Council.

But, for all that, there is also the simple, enjoyable sport of spotting and chasing down skippers for autographs, collecting posters and enjoying the massive Vendée Globe race village which for the last two days has been bathed in warm sunshine.

For the ocean racing cognoscenti the heroes of the sport are widely accessible. Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) have been on their boats regularly. The poster boys, Vendée Globe rookies Louis Burton (Bureau Valley) and François Gabart (Macif) set female hearts aflutter, while the characters who have engaged the race audience in the past, like Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and the race’s only female Samantha Davies (Saveol) who illuminated the 2008-9 race with her effervescent joie de vie, her tenacious spirit and her astute sailing. And the likes of Kito de Pavant appeals to all ages, the laughing cow entertaining the kids, whilst travails of the sanguine skipper from the south of France are well known, not least his heart breaking retirement from the last race, breaking his mast less than 36 hours in.

The British skippers have been impressively relaxed. He had to battle to make the start line last time after his Hugo Boss was hit by a fishing boat on its arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne but at today’s press conference Alex Thomson joked:

“This is my third Vendée Globe and it is the first time I have been ready. The last time I was in Les Sables d’Olonne it was less enjoyable. This has been great fun this time. But we sit up here and take all the glory and go on the boat, but I need to say thank you to my team. If I can put in 50% of the effort they have done then I will get to the finish this time.”

Mike Golding (Gamesa) is more relaxed than he as ever been, now just wanting to get out on to the race course:

“When you’re here the first time you’re full of excitement for the unknown. When you come the second time you’re full of anticipation of what you’re going to achieve and now it’s becoming even more enjoyable as it’s getting closer. The wait to get to the start of the Vendée is very long and when you’ve done it three previous times it’s even longer, sometimes you just want to get on with it. But for all that my motivation is improving not waning.”

Bruno Retailleau: “The Vendée Globe has taken on a more popular dimension in the village. What has impressed me is the capacity and passion of the public. There has not been so much of a queue as a procession. People wait patiently, talking quietly, look at the boats and share the dream. You sense a certain harmony, forming a communion between the event and the public. There is something which develops between the public and the skippers. People want to see them because they are heroes. The concept of the race is so simple that everyone can understand it, you don’t have to be any kind of sailor. I think mostly it is a beautiful, simple story, a legend. It is more than a competition, a race. This is the story of a confrontation between man and nature. Man in a world in which he is fragile faces nature which is big and dangerous. But whether you are French, Brazilian or Japanese you can live this race. And the race is gaining an even more international dimension.”
 
  THEY SAID… 
 
 
 
 
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“These three weeks in Les Sables d’Olonne have been amazing, I have loved it, we do not see this atmosphere anywhere else. ”

Sam Davies, Savéol
“The Vendée Globe is a global race already as we go around the world solo. ”

Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives-Coeur
“I wish my 19 rivals three months at sea which are as great as the three weeks before the start! ”

Kito de Pavant, Groupe Bel
  “Team Plastique “I’m really excited to go, we still have a little work, it will be ready in two days …”

Alessandro Di Benedetto
“It is important that each of us enjoy our Vendée Globe and sail safely carefully, because it is a long course. ”  

Mike Golding, Gamesa

Dom Wavre (SUI) training on board "MIRABAUD" offshore of Yeu island before 2012/13 Vendee Globe. (Photo by Thierry Martinez)

Dominique Wavre is scheduled to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow at the helm of Mirabaud ahead of the 10 of November start of the Vendée Globe, the non-stop solo round the world race. This will be Dominique’s fourth edition of this race and three weeks from the start, we check in with the skipper on how his preparations are going.

Thursday 18 October 2012 – Dominique Wavre, the Geneva-based skipper of Mirabaud is ready for the start of the Vendée Globe on the 10 November in the Sables d’Olonne. This will be his fourth event and his record-breaking tenth around the world race.

“We are pretty much there with our preparations,” he said. “We have done a lot of miles over the last few months and have tested all of our systems. Everything is working perfectly. There are few details that need to be finalised before the start, but the majority of the work is complete.”

Dominique has prioritised three main elements in his preparations: the man, the boat and the team.

Fitness has been a big part of race preparations for the skipper who, three weeks out, is in fighting form. With the aid of a physiotherapist, Dominique has tailored his training, which has included cycling and running in addition to some work with weights. He is strong in body and mind and ready for the challenge.

“I’m not in race mode yet,” he explained. “For the moment I am still busy with race preparations and am trying to stay focused on completing those. The fact that our prep is on track and going exactly as planned means I have peace of mind going into the competition. Having started much earlier than in past years, we are actually slightly ahead of schedule; every moment since January has been planned and our time has been entirely dedicated to the Vendée Globe.”

The race yacht, Mirabaud, is equally ready after a few alterations for solo racing and several months of testing. “We have a good boat, the foundation of our campaign is solid,” said Dominique, adding: “And I know my boat inside out. We have done a number of upgrades such as the installation of a bucket seat, a new spray dodger and a tiller and these new elements have all required testing and refining. We also took delivery of a new mast at the beginning of the year which has now been tested in all types of conditions and is 100%.”

As for the team: “We are eight involved in the final preparations, Michele Paret oversees the group which includes riggers, an engineer and an electronics specialist. We have also started preparing the provisioning; we’ve given the engine a full service and have serviced each winch on the boat. Absolutely nothing is left to chance.”

The Mirabaud team’s days are action packed and Dominique is careful to stay in the present and not think too much ahead. When he does though, his enthusiasm is catching: “This is an incredible event and I am absolutely delighted to be competing in it for the fourth time. This is the culmination of over a year’s work. It will be fantastic to get started!”

The Vendee Globe start is on the 10 November in the Sables d’Olonne in France. The current record is 84 days, 3 hours, 9 minutes and 8 seconds.

Gamesa )Photo by Bernard Gergaud)

MIKE GOLDING is back in the very familiar surroundings of Les Sables d’Olonne after arriving last night into the Port Olona marina with his IMOCA Open 60 Gamesa, following a fast and pleasingly uneventful passage from Southampton, UK.

Accompanied by his team of preparateurs, Graham Tourell and Mikey Ferguson, and met by his composite engineer, Ian McCabe, Golding arrived at the famous start port for the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe just in time to catch the last of the tide which allowed them to move directly into the marina.

Golding commented, “It is really good to be back and it was lovely arriving last night. We were met by a couple of RIBs and there were people on the canal side cheering and people at their windows and balconies welcoming us. It is a very nice reminder of the warmth and passion that the people of Les Sables d’Olonne have for the race and its skippers.”

 

Gamesa is the fourth IMOCA Open 60, of an expected fleet of 20, to take her place in the marina, the second to arrive from outside the Vendée region after Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel.

“We had a really good range of conditions, sailing in full Vendée mode, fully loaded with spares and food and we pressed the boat pretty hard. We were just footing a lot of the time, not hard on the wind, and then had some fast reaching from Ushant doing 23-24knots and everything was fine. We did some good miles at speed with some nice surfing,” recalled Golding.

“It is exciting to be here. After the long build up to eventually be here now feels really good. We all went for a nice meal together, steak frites of course, and reflected how much time we have spent here over the 12 years: it adds up to quite a bit!”

The Gamesa technical team have a moderately comprehensive list of work to get through over the coming days, but all of the tasks are relatively small.

“I have to say I really am happy with the shape the boat is in. I don’t think I have been here before feeling so well prepared. Usually there is something niggling with the boat, you are waiting for some part, or something random you are worrying about, but this time I am happy with where we are at. Thankfully that reflects our time investment this summer in making sure that we reach this point with the boat and the hard work by the shore team. And if that has been at the expense of sailing time on the water then I am fine with that. It has been a bit of a frustrating summer, but to have three weeks to go before the start and be here like this, this is where I have always wanted to be. I can say we are better prepared with the boat than ever before.”

Golding will return home to England this evening, returning to Les Sables d’Olonne at the weekend for the official opening to the public of the Vendée Globe race village. This will be followed by a few days of media interviews and commitments, before the final build up, which will start on 2 November, when Golding will be joined by the full complement of the Gamesa Sailing Team as they count down the final days to the start of the 2012-2013 edition.

Gamesa by Gamesa Sailing Team

Anna Corbella Celebrates Entering The Mediterranean (Photo by Dee Caffari / DCR2)

Anna Corbella Celebrates Entering The Mediterranean (Photo by Dee Caffari / DCR2)

Currently sixth in the rankings, record breaking British yachtswoman Dee Caffari  and her Spanish co-skipper Anna Corbella are the only all female crew taking part in the race and will each establish two world records when they complete the race. Dee will become the only female sailor to have sailed non-stop around the world more times than any other in history. Anna Corbella will become the first Spanish woman to circumnavigate the globe non-stop.  

Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella were about 25 miles off Cartagena this morning in light conditions making just 4-5 kts, with 294 miles to make to the finish line.

GAES Approaching Gibraltar (Photo by K. Morgan / Full Emotions)

GAES Approaching Gibraltar (Photo by K. Morgan / Full Emotions)

It was Jean Pierre Dick, double winner of the Barcelona World Race, who said in the Mediterranean that Barcelona needs to be earned, and after their downwind approach thorugh Gibraltar and the Alboran, Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella are having a final reminder of JP’s belief. As if they needed it after 101 days racing. But the GAES Chicas have had another transition of light winds to go through and are now in light upwind conditions with 294 miles to go to the finish at 0300hrs this morning UTC. So depending on wind, still a late Tuesday, maybe Wednesday finish for Dee and Anna.

“My arms are certainly telling me so too. We knew the Mediterranean would make uswork for the final few miles and we were not wrong.” Dee Caffari writes this morning, “The first transition has been dealt with and fortunately we were only becalmed for a couple of hours. We are now sailing upwind in flat water.The mileage is ticking by but quite slowly now we are having to tack to make our course. I think in the last twenty four hours we have done more manouevres than in the whole of the Southern Ocean.”

Hugo Boss are level with Madeira and will be contemplating when they tack across. They are making 11.5kts.
Forum Maritim Catala are 360 miles SWW of the Cabo Verde Islands upwind in 15-16 kts trade winds, while We Are Water are still a bit compromised in terms of northwards progress as they are beating up the Brasilian coast only 150-180 miles off.

Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann Take 5th on Neutrogena

Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann Take 5th on Neutrogena

Ryan Breymaier (USA) and Boris Herrmann (GER) crossed the finish line of the Barcelona World Race at 1513hrs (UTC)to take fifth place on a perfect spring Sunday afternoon.

In Brittany, the epicentre of solo and short handed ocean racing which is their adopted home area, they had only moved in similar circles but had never even met before they were brought together only last year, united to pursue a dream they both shared. Their first meeting, like a bizarre blind date, was over dinner in Concarneau’s Verriere bar, 30 minutes from where Herrmann lived.

Today the pre-race poster boys not only fulfil that dream in a placing which achieves their pre-race target, but the execution of their entire 25,200-mile course has earned them widespread and considerable acclaim for a maturity which belies the fact that this Barcelona World Race is their first IMOCA Open 60 ocean race together. They did not let crucial damage to a hydraulic ram keel control affect their philosophy, even though it knocked 20-25% off their maximum performance since before Cape Horn.

Docked in the late afternoon sunshine at the foot of the iconic Columbus monument before a large international crowd Ryan Breymaier said: “The goal of this was to get around the world non-stop, especially this being our first time, and not being the newest boat in the fleet, the goal was never that we were going to win, we were just out to do the best that we possibly could, and make our sponsors proud, to make our friends and family proud, and that is the overriding thing: to have done this race to the highest level we were capable of doing it at, not to have left anything on the field of battle, so to speak. And to just know that when we stand here in Barcelona that we did the best we could, that everyone else who knows us knew that we did the best we could. We have never given up, yes it is difficult, we started going upwind for 19 days, from the Equator and when you are missing the last 25% of your keel, it is like having a 50 foot boat against a 60 foot boat. We just did the best we could. That is the only philosophy you can have: 1: make sure you finish, 2 do the best that you can.?

Only the third team to finish this edition of the race without stopping, Herrmann becomes the first German sailor ever to complete a non-stop racing circumnavigation and to finish an IMOCA Open 60 race, whilst Breymaier – a late adopter to sailing who only started sailing seriously at college in 1993 – is the first American to finish the Barcelona World Race.

Among the highlights of a race which they often made look effortless has been close boat-for-boat duels. First with the event’s most experienced duo Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret on Mirabaud, who they tussled with from the descent of the South Atlantic to the threshold of the Pacific, when Neutrogena finally eased away from the Swiss-French couple, and then a match race up the Atlantic with Estrella Damm which only finally escaped just north of the Cape Verde Islands to earn fourth place, finishing yesterday morning.

Herrmann: “For me, remembering especially the very long match race in the Indian ocean with Mirabaud remains the essence of this race for us. Every update the distances changed a bit for either them or us, I remember one moment when we could just see them, maybe four miles away. Both boats with very reduced sails, going very fast in rough seas. And we said, ‘Ok, now we’ve caught them we can take a reef and we would still be faster.’ We were then taking a reef and still doing 33 knots, the fastest moment of the race was just then.

“The next position report they had run away 10 miles, that was a very intense time of the race.?

To the west of Cape Horn, some days after Breymaier revealed that they had leaked oil from a keel ram, their pace slowed slightly but it was only when they passed Cape Horn, speaking by video simultaneously to Race HQ and to their team in Concarneau, Brittany, that Herrmann confirmed that they had a damaged keel ram which would progressively compromise their performance. In the end that was a major contributing factor when Estrella Damm finally broke away to set up a fast reaching return to Gibraltar, while Neutrogena was left slogging upwind, close to the rhumb line.

Their repair skills were tested rebuilding the autopilot hydraulics, the hydrogenerators, a costly 90 minutes odyssey to the lee of Isla Nueva at the entrance to the Beagle Channel to fix a Solent headstay fitting which cost them miles, and a major repair to a water ballast pipe.

One of their most memorable moments for sure will be when a key sail tumbled off the deck when they broached. Their rapid, seemingly forlorn search, in the tumultuous waters was suddenly successful when they spotted a number of albatross resting on the semi-waterlogged, bagged sail.

It is the German co-skipper’s second round-the-world race, after winning the two handed Portimao Global Ocean Race in 2009, which is a with-stops race in 40-foot Class 40’s.

Despite having no past history as a partnership before their preparation started with the 2004-launched Marc Lombard-designed IMOCA Open 60 – which was previously the Route du Rhum winning, (and second in the Vendée Globe until losing its keel) Veolia of Roland Jourdain – Herrmann and Breymaier have gelled as a very strong team which took early cognisance of their respective strengths, weaknesses and different characters. Herrmann lived with Breymaier and his wife Nicola in the lead-in months.

Their complementary skills have been the bedrock of their success, but the duo have also developed a strong rapport, a working relationship which has taken account of their different strengths. Breymaier knows every centimetre of the boat and rig, while Herrmann, a former 49er and 505 high performance dinghy racer who graduated through the Mini Class to the Class 40, brought the circumnavigation experience. Both proved, from Day 1, that they had the skills to sail the boat consistently fast.

Breymaier, who moved to Europe six years ago to pursue his dream, worked as a preparateur and rig specialist with Jourdain’s team. In fact in 2007 he prepared the red IMOCA Open 60 for the French skipper’s attack with Jean Luc Nélias on the first Barcelona World Race, as well subsequently for the Vendée Globe in 2008-9.

Ironically this will be the boat’s first fully completed circumnavigation after retirements from two successive solo Vendée Globe races. The pair completed the theoretical course of 25,200 miles at an average of 10.49 knots, actually sailing 27,850 miles at an average speed of 11.59 knots, arriving 6 days, 4 hours, 53 minutes and 25 seconds after race winners Virbac-Paprec 3.

Their race has been underpinned by rock solid consistency, very strong, assured weather strategies in each ocean – they will be one of the few teams who will be almost entirely happy with their weather choices – and a youthful endurance which allowed them to hold pace, or be faster, than many newer generation boats. Even so theirs has been a big learning curve, the fruits of which Herrmann hopes to take forwards to the solo Vendée Globe.

Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann crossed the finish line to complete their Barcelona World Race at 15:13:25hrs UTC (17:13:25hrs local) on Sunday April 10th in fifth place. Their elapsed time for the course was 100 days, 3 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds, an average speed for the course of 10.49kts for the 25,200 miles theoretical course. They sailed an actual course of 27,850 miles, at an average 11.59 knots.

The Race of Neutrogena

The race:

• January 3rd Mid-fleet through Med, then briefly to third as they head south to Morocco. But..

• January 4thStruggle to get out of Gibraltar Straits. Finally exit in 5th, alongside GAES.

Boris Herrmann (GER) January 4th: “It’s been the worst of our lives! We have this challenge in the Gibraltar Straits with incoming current and trying to sail against it with not enough wind, so we can make some metres sideways but it is impossible to get against the current. In fact in 24 hours we have not moved no metres west. It’s frustrating, disappointing. It is tough. We still make the odd joke, but at the moment if there is no wind coming we could stay here forever and that’s frightening.?

On expectations at the outset:

Ryan Breymaier (USA) January 6th: “In summary our first week, the beginning of the week was great, the middle absolutely terrible and now we are just pushing as hard as we can to try and stay ahead of the three boats who are just behind us.

“I would say that as far as our expectations go we are capable of doing well. We did well in the Mediterranean and now we are sort of where we expected to be in general.?

Ryan Breymaier (USA) January 8th: “We try to be pushing at 110 % all the time. We make sure we have the biggest sails we can have up all the time, always have someone on deck all the time and pushing. […] once we get to reaching conditions we can relax a little. But when you are alongside another boat next to you its impossible not to push. We are definitely happiest pushing.?

“I think Bilou’s Vendée Globe proved the boat is pretty competitive against the newer boats and we never lay back and wait. It is a testament to the original design and the work we have done to the boat.?

•January 8th Pass Canaries in eighth. Up to 6th/7th for much of Atlantic.

• January 22nd On the battle with Renault Z.E.:(Renault Z.E.and Neutrogena closely matched after fleet regroups in S.Atlantic, with just 0.1 of a knot splitting the pair over the past 24 hours.)

Boris Herrmann (GER), January 22:“Every position update we try to get in front of them. It’s not easy, they have this Farr-designed boat which works well in these conditions and we have to be really perfectly trimmed to keep up with their speed or to be a little bit faster.?

• January 28th Renault have got away, Neutrogena chasing Mirabaud – approx 70 miles behind going into 1st ice gate for battle that will last across the Southen Oceans.

On the partnership:

Ryan Breymaier (USA) February 2nd: “We sail together well as a team and living together on the boat is quite easy. We take our turns with pretty much everything and it is going quite well.

“When we are not doing well I have a tendency to get very, very frustrated and that creates a shitty atmosphere on board and we are working on that a bit. I have a tendency to get overly worked up about things. I try myself harder to keep myself calm and that helps a lot for sure.?

Recovering sail from it going overboard:

Boris Herrmann (GER) February 5th:“ The boat wiped out and in this whole episode we lost one sail over the side. We were sailing with the small kite and one reef in the main and so it takes quite a while to take sock the kite.

Once we had done that we looked at each other and said do we really do this because we had at least one and a half miles to go back and it was big waves, and gusts and everything. We did not expect to find it, so we said ‘lets try’ and we turned and on the trace on the navigation programme we could find the point where we wiped out, we went to the position with a couple of tacks, going upwind with very small sails.

From there we went downwind very slowly. And all of a sudden I could see a few albatross and they were sitting on our sails.

I think we have something going on with the albatross. Each time we make a stupid mistake it seems like there is one near the boat.

First of all it was quite stressful but in fact finding the sail and then managing to get it back on deck in these big waves was a miracle.?

On a consistent, regular battle with Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret on Mirabaud which ran from Jan 23rd when they were 1.5 miles through the Indian Ocean together, compressing and expanding, until Neutrogena gets ahead on 17th February, south of Australia, with just 500 miles of the Indian Ocean left.

Ryan Breymaier (USA) February 13:“It is a good game. This little rubber band effect happens when there is a difference in breeze. They get ahead or we catch up, we are not sure if Dominique has the magic touch and just gets away into the breeze or we just make little errors.It is nice to have a boat to sail against.

 “We have had of communication by e-mail, it is subtle, it is like Dom needs to shave and is snoring right now, and we say ‘yes Boris is snoring right now as well’.

“It keeps me motivated for sure, but my mood changes from day to day for sure, based in whether we are 100 miles away from them or 30 miles away I am a completely different person.?

• February 17th Neutrogena pass Mirabaud to move into 6th, just south of Hobart.

Boris Herrmann (GER), February 17th:“[The battle with Mirabaud] is very motivating for us and for them. They wrote us in an email saying they are enjoying this duel as much as we are. It pushes us – every position report we look first at their speed, their positioning, and that really keeps every going at every moment. Rather than putting negative pressure on us it’s very motivating, and it’s fun.

“We have been ahead of them for a very short moment 10 days now and we’re coming closer every position report for two days, and finally passing them right now is a great moment, we’re very happy.?

• February 21st Neutrogena exit Wellington in fourth, ahead of stopped Estrella and Groupe Bel. Chase Renault hard across the Pacific but can’t get ahead.

On hydrogenerator repairs:

Ryan Breymaier (USA) February 28th:“They are prototypes and require constant massaging. The other night I went outside because it did not seem like it was producing as much charge as it should, and I found half of it out of the water, parts ripped out of it, so I spent another day glue-ing it back together, and we have put it back on and it is working perfectly.?

“It is nice to be able to fix things, it is a shame to have to do it so frequently.Most of the boat is in perfect shape still, just these prototypes (hydrogenerators) which we put on just before the start are not doing so well.

“I still am not so good with the electronics and electrics stuff, I leave that up to Boris and even down to I don’t really understand exactly how the hydrogenerator itself works feeding the electrical system, but I am capable of putting them back together.?

Hydraulics issues:

Ryan Breymaier (USA) March 5th: “ We had a little bit of leaking in the hydraulic system which is now fixed. That was the primary thing and that made it hard to sail at full potential for a while. We have not been able to use the big sails for a while because of it.

“It is a really crap feeling to know that you are slow compared to the other boats, so we just worked as fast as we could to get things sorted out. It is just terrible, every minute that you know that you are losing time to other boats is a real shame, and that is the position we found ourselves in unfortunately.“

Knockdown approaching Cape Horn:

Boris Herrmann (GER) March 7:“It is very windy, we are going fast. Yesterday we had up to 62 knots and four knockdowns. I would say we had an average of 40 knots yesterday, and that one gust of 62 knots which lasted about a minute but that was enough to throw us on our side and it was a little bit of a shake up.?

• March 8 Pass Cape Horn at 1130hrs UTC, almost in tandem with the French solo Jules Verne Record challenger Thomas Coville, alone on his maxi trimaran Sodeb’o. The Neutrogena duo and Coville exchange messages and film each other, the red tri passing less than 50 metres from Neutrogena.

But on a live video link joining Neutrogena with Roland Jourdain, principal of Team Kairos in Concarneau, and their team members, and the Barcelona Race HQ studio, Hermann revealed the keel ram damage which was to compromise their performance all the way up the Atlantic and to the finish.

Ryan Breymaier (FRA) March 8: “We have a problem with the rams on the keel. In the ram we have a problem with the joints inside one of them. So we can only use one and so it is hard to be at 100% all the time. We need to reduce the angle of the keel and so are about 70% of possibility to protect the boat a bit. The last four for five days we have worked hard with the keel and for the moment it is the best possible state. And so we intend to look after it very carefully to make sure we can finish the race.?

• March 9 Then immediately after the pleasure of passing Cape Horn they needed to make a repair to the Solent headstay required a short detour to lee of island Nueva at entrance to Beagle Channel. This loses them valuable miles to Estrella Damm.

• March 12 Mirabaud dismasted. Estrella Damm briefly overtake Neutrogena but soon drop back to a close fifth. From there the duo trade miles and are close until north of latitude of Cabo Verde when Estrella Damm and Renault Z.E can foot away on a northerly routing, breaching the Azores high to gain favourable reaching conditions, but with unable to fully cant their keel, Ryan and Boris have to stick with their high mode, maximizing VMG close to the rhumb line.

• March 16th Fast pace past South America:

Ryan: “Right now to be honest I am not sure what is making the difference, the hull form is quite OK when you have this rolling swell, it is just when it gets super flat that we suffer. Other than that we have a very, very low drag nice keel, a huge sail plan which helps right now, we are only sailing with genoa and main we don’t have a gennaker up, and the boat is sailing at a very high percentage of its polars, it is easily driven, under water all the appendages are low drag and we just can take advantage of having a nice sailplan.?

• March 18th– beginning to lose out because of keel. Estrella Damm overtake to fourth but Neutrogena yet again regains the place.

Boris Herrmann:“This might be the last position report showing us ahead of Estrella Damm and we definitely have been a bit handicapped with the keel we can’t cant fully, also we had lighter breeze I think because their speed since yesterday.?

• March 20th Estrella Damm overtake once again and this time hold the advantage, albeit with just a handful of miles in it.

Looking to the finish:

Ryan Breymaier (USA), March 21st:“My thoughts are always the same: Get there as fast as possible, get there as fast as possible, get there as fast as possible! It never changes!?

Doldrums: In fact the Doldrums were one of their low points, Herrmann in particular suffering with fatigue and extreme heat.

Ryan Breymaier (USA), March 24th: “The Doldrums are going very well thus far, knock on wood. We have between 5 and 10 knots out of the breeze and it’s not stopped yet, so hopefully that continues.

“In these lighter conditions we’re not as compromised as we will be later on when there’s more wind and waves, so we’re pretty happy to be keeping up now and are differently worried about what’s going to happen when we get into the stronger upwind trade wind conditions a little later on

• Post Doldrums long beat to finish, Neutrogena suffers with keel:
Boris Herrmann (GER) March 27th: “It is just a bit nuts for us just now because we feel like if we had the full potential of our keel then it would be a totally different game, for us it is like driving a car with only four out of five gears. We can’t switch into fifth gear and get the last bit of speed. We reckon that it is almost a knot that we are missing, so it is a good thing for them. They seem to be able to sail away from us with no trouble.?

• March 7th Pass Gibraltar

• March 10th Arrive in Barcelona after 100 days, 3 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds of racing.

Quotes from the skippers’ press conference:

How they made ground in the trades going down the Atlantic:

Ryan: “Over the course we had a very good idea of exactly what conditions would favour this boat, and the main conditions that favour us are big waves and a lot of breeze downwind. Knowing that and knowing that the trades were particularly strong, we kept the big kite up and drove the boat by hand for four days. And that’s more or less how we managed to keep up with or get ahead of some of those boats that had passed us or had gotten away from us a bit.

“It’s pretty exhausting work though, at the best of times people are normally driving boats for an hour or two at a stretch, but to do it for four days straight off and on is not very easy to do, but that’s the size of it – capitalizing on the times when we could go fast.?

Then after that, it became a series of match races with Renault and Mirabaud, what did that add?

Boris: “For me, remembering especially the very long match race in the Indian ocean with Mirabaud remains the essence of this race for us. Every update the distances changed a bit for either them or us, I remember one moment when we could just see them, maybe four miles away. Both boats with very reduced sails, going very fast in rough seas. And we said, ‘Ok, now we’ve caught them we can take a reef and we would still be faster.’ We were then taking a reef and still doing 33 knots, the fastest moment of the race was just then.

“The next position report they had run away 10 miles, that was a very intense time of the race.?

You had a Cape Horn meeting with Thomas Coville with Sodebo, was that a special moment?
Boris: “We knew there was probably going to be a meeting between us and Sodebo and Thomas Coville on his trimaran at Cape Horn. It was fascinating, we had a sunrise just behind Cape Horn, and see the silhouette of this mountain. And at the same moment just on the horizon behind us we see a little dot that catches up with us and we both go past Cape Horn at the same moment, just 20 minutes from each other. And then you see this guy, Thomas Coville, running on the trampoline to us, saying hello. And he’s screaming with his arms in the air, you can really feel his energy and his power. I thought: that’s the king of the sea, doing a fantastic job.?

You had some negative moments – the keel breakage and when Estrella Damm passed you and there was no more battle than just getting home – how do you keep positive?

Ryan: “When we had our keel trouble our first thought was immediately: our race is over right now, and that was something that we were not really prepared for or were not really interested in! The fact that we were able to get it back to the point where it functions at 75 per cent or something like that is not a miracle but definitely very lucky.

“That gave us motivation just to keep going and see how we could do after that. The goal of this was to get around the world non-stop. Especially it being our first time and not being on the newest boat in the fleet, the goal was never that we were going to win, we just wanted to do as well as we possibly could and make our sponsors proud, make our friends and family proud. And that’s the over-riding thing, do have done this race to the highest level that we were capable of doing it. Not to have left anything on the field of battle, so to speak, and just to make sure that when we got here to Barcelona that we knew we’d done the best we could and everyone else that knows us knew we did the best we could. We’d never given up, we’d never had just let things go.

“Yeah, it’s difficult, especially when we started going upwind. We went upwind for, I don’t know how long, 18 days or something from the Equator, and when you’re missing the last 25 per cent of the keel it’s like having a 50ft boat against a 60ft boat. But we just did the best we could. That’s the only philosophy you can have in a race like this; 1, make sure you finish, 2, do the best you can.?

Tell us about your relationship, what were the most testing times for you?

Boris: “That’s not so easy to answer. As you say, we are mates, we became good friends. There’s an old saying that if you sail with someone on a boat, you either become good friends or you never want to see each other. Of course in 100 days there are days which are more tough or more tension, it’s just normal, and some really good days when you have fun together and we had a lot of fun together.

“I don’t know if we’ll have the opportunity to sail together again, but I would say if it’s possible I would look forward to it.? [Ryan nods]

Ryan, you’ve just gone around the world non-stop in 100 days, how does it feel?

Ryan: “Well, other than the day I met my wife this has been the biggest day of my life thus far. I have to say that 100 days is an awfully long time. The only other thing I think in normal human experience that takes longer than sailing around the world is a woman being pregnant, and that’s three times longer so I can imagine most women have a better idea of long drawn out things!

“But it’s been a very interesting experience. I think that I’ve learnt a lot about myself. Going back to the question of how we’ve got along, I’ve definitely learnt about myself in so far as how I deal with Boris in this small situation, and I think that’s very valuable. And just the way I’ve had plenty of time to think about life and think about other things. It’s a competition but it’s also an experience in other ways. It’s been super-valuable for me I think in terms of my personal growth. If it wasn’t such a pain in the ass I’d recommend it to everyone!?